The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) has signed two Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) with the University of Ghana (UG) towards the fight against pests and other crop related diseases in the country.
The agreements cover both the Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Division of the Ministry and the Quality Control Division of COCOBOD
The University is expected to provide services to the Ministry in relations to surveillance and control of insect pests, as part of initiative by MoFA to reduce the effects of insects and other diseases on food crops.
The programme will be executed by the African Regional Postgraduate Programme in Insect Science(ARPIS) of the University of Ghana with support from the Dutch Embassy.
The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, signed on behalf of the Ministry whilst the Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Prof. Ebenezer Owusu, signed on behalf on the nation’s premier university.
The need for the collaboration between MoFA and the University of Ghana was further necessitated by the Government of Ghana through the Ministry to meet the safety and quality requirements of the European Markets.
Ghana is currently serving a ban on exports of five major crops to the EU markets after the country was blacklisted for major defects in exported food crops.
However, the country has another opportunity to present itself for a review in September and the MoFA-UG agreement is seen as one of the commitment on the part of Government to get the European Union to lift the ban.
Under the MOU, the University of Ghana, through ARPIS, will offer training and capacity building services to personnel of the PPRSD and the Quality Control Division of COCOBOD to upgrade their skills in the detection and fight against all forms of insects and pests that affect crops in the country.
The programme is also expected to augment the limited staff capacity at the Plant Protection and Regulatory Division of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture whose activities has been hindered by lack of qualified and adequate human resources.
Funding is being provided by the Dutch Government through a special partnership with MoFA.
According to the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Afriyie Akoto, a successful implementation of the agreement will help reduce incidents of poor food quality for both local and international markets, whilst paving way for Ghana to resume the exportation of food crops to the major foreign markets.
He lamented that the country is losing lots of revenue as a result of the ban which he partially attributed to the inability of the PPRSD to perform its role as the ‘biological police’ in the country.
The Minister of Food and Agriculture of Ghana further observed that the MoU will also enhance the position of Ghana as the producer of the most quality cocoa seeds in the world.
Dr. Afriyie Akoto therefore expressed the commitment of MoFA to the partnership, stressing that the ministry will readily avail itself for the opportunity.
He further opined that the collaboration between the Ministry and the academia will go a long way to benefit the country.
On his part, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Prof. Oduro Owusu, said the agreement was in fulfilment of the role of the university as the hub of knowledge and expertise.
He said the University was ready to offer full support to Government in all endeavours, adding that the institution has enough human resource capacity to put at the disposal of all other ministries that may need their services.
Prof. Oduro Owusu hailed the MoU as a significant milestone and commended the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Afriyie Akoto, for his vision and the laudable initiative.
He further pledged the University’s readiness to partner government in the implementation of the flagship Planting for Food and Jobs policy.